Baby Veronica is returned to parents

The four year old girl at the center of custody dispute with birth father is returned to parents Photo: Matt and Melanie Capobianco reunion with Veronica in Oklahoma

WASHINGTON, September 25, 2013 —  The nightmare has finally ended for Matt and Melanie Capobianco, the parents of the young girl who has become known as baby Veronica.  

After two years battling birth father Dusten Brown and the legal system, the Capobiancos and Veronica have been reunited and are returning to their home in Charleston, S.C. 

Monday, the Oklahoma Supreme Court dissolved a court order that put a stay on the transfer of custody from Brown to the Capobiancos. This is an important development since previously the Cherokee Nation had been adamant that Veronica must remain with the tribe.

Brown cooperated with the court’s lifted stay and turned over the four-year-old to her legal parents late Monday. Dusten Brown reportedly packed up toys and clothing for her and transferred her to a Cherokee Nation lawyer, who then brought her to the Capobiancos. 

The two-year custody dispute over Veronica centered on a previously little known and seldom-applied federal law known as the Indian Child Welfare Act that was designed to keep Native Americans together with their tribes. 

Veronica’s birth mother, who is not Native American, gave Veronica up for adoption to the Capobiancos. Nearly two years later, her birth father Dusten Brown, a member of the Cherokee Nation, challenged the adoption and won a reversal of custody in a South Carolina court.

The Capobiancos were then ordered to give Veronica to the birth father that she had never before met. Brown took her with him to Oklahoma. The Capobiancos appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which earlier this year issued a landmark decision about the application of the Indian Child Welfare Act, which prompted a South Carolina court to finalize the Capobiancos’ adoption and order that Veronica be returned to them.

Brown together with attorneys from the Cherokee Nation then turned to Oklahoma’s courts, which issued an emergency stay, keeping Veronica in Oklahoma. The Cherokee Nation contended that the U.S. Supreme Court did not have jurisdiction over a sovereign nation, of which Brown was a part. 

The Capobiancos went to Oklahoma to bring Veronica back to South Carolina, but were prevented from doing so until the stay was lifted by the courts. After battling for more than a month, the Oklahoma court lifted its stay, leaving in place the South Carolina court order, which validated the Capobiancos’ adoption. 

Now that they have been reunited with their daughter, the Capobiancos will be heading home to Charleston shortly to start a new chapter of their lives.

Veronica spent the first half of her life living with the Capobiancos and the second half with Dusten Brown. No doubt, this has made her early life complicated, but there’s great hope that both families will move forward, ensuring that Veronica’s future is a peaceful and happy one.


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Andrea Poe

Andrea Poe is a veteran journalist, whose work has appeared in thousands of publications, including Town & Country, Marie Claire and Entrepreneur.  She is the author of several books and her work has appeared in many others, including anthologies and college textbooks. 

Andrea serves as editor of the Travel & Food section at The Washington Times Communities.  Her love of travel has led her to cover everything from remote villages in the Andes to her hometown of New York, from Paris to Pittsburgh, from Beijing to the Bahamas.  No matter where she travels, she likes to uncover the unusual and share with readers those often-overlooked aspects of a place and its people.  She dubs her column Raven’s Eye as a nod to her illustrious (and, yes, infamous) relative, Edgar Allan Poe, a writer who knew more than a little something about the quirky and unique.  

Andrea is also mother to Maxine, who was adopted from Vietnam in 2006, and is the inspiration for The Red Thread column on adoption at The Washington Times Communities.   Andrea is currently at work on a book on international adoption.

In addition to her work as mother, writer and traveler, she is the founder and president of Media Branding International, a consulting firm that helps individuals and organizations craft and promote their image in media outlets around the globe.

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